CEO 75-1 -- January 6, 1975
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
DOES CONSIDERATION OF LEASE AGREEMENT FOR OFFICE SPACE WITH A PARTY WHO IS A THIRD COUSIN OF DISTRICT CHAIRMAN PRESENT A CONFLICT OF INTEREST
To: John C. Camp, Chairman, Suwannee River Management District, Live Oak
Prepared by: Gene L. "Hal" Johnson
The provisions for conflict of interest under s. 112.313, F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, and for voting conflict of interest under s. 112.314(2), F. S., are not violated when the public officer is negotiating with a party of distant family relationship (third cousin in this instance) or when the public officer has no past, present, or planned future dealings with the owners of the property involved. Decision as to whether personal relationship obscures fair or impartial negotiations is left to the conscience of the public officer.
Would it be a conflict of interest for me to participate in negotiation of a lease agreement between the Suwannee River Management District, of which I am chairman, and a party who is my third cousin?
Your question is answered in the negative.
As you have stated in your letter, the Suwannee River Management District, of which you are the chairman, is currently negotiating a lease arrangement for additional office space with a party who is your third cousin. Further, you have had no financial dealings with the owners of the property involved, nor do you contemplate having dealings with them in the future.
It is our opinion that, under the present circumstances, neither a prohibited conflict of interest under s. 112.313, F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, nor a voting conflict of interest
under s. 112.314(2), F. S., arise from such negotiations. We can find no direct or indirect benefit which would cause you to improperly discharge your public duties.
However, as we pointed out in CEO 74-50, if you feel that your personal relationship with this distant cousin is so close that you cannot act fairly or impartially in regard to this matter, we would urge you to recuse yourself from these negotiations.